Employee engagement in the U.S. is, to put it plainly, abysmal. The estimates place the rate of disengagement somewhere between 65% and 70%. That’s bad news for employers since disengagement relates directly to lower morale, lower productivity, and voluntary turnover. So, what can you do to develop and sustain employee engagement?
- Hire right
With unemployment at an almost absurdly low 3.5%, many companies are hurting in terms of filling critical roles. Existing employees are often overtaxed, putting in long hours, and even fielding work for which they lack the right training. This situation can lead to the company putting pressure on the HR department to get somebody, anybody, into the role. That’s a mistake.
Hiring the wrong person, especially for a leadership role, can drive engagement into the ground. Bad hires are almost always miserable in their position. They communicate that misery to everyone around them. It can infect an entire team or even an organization.
- Provide feedback
Employees who don’t receive regular feedback as either praise for work well done or constructive criticism become disengaged. That lack of feedback leaves employees operating in a vacuum. They don’t know if they’re meeting expectations and often lack clearly defined goals.
As difficult as it can prove to carve out the time for praise or constructive criticism, it’s essential for engagement. It’s also a straightforward way for you to express an interest in employee growth. If you’re taking the time to talk to them, employees read that as you wanting them to succeed.
- Provide training
Despite all the talk about natural leaders, most leadership skills come out of a combination of training and experience. Good leaders get training early. It helps them avoid the crucible of trial and error. Subordinates can also benefit from training opportunities that build or expand their skills.
Offering training benefits you and your employees. Training keeps people engaged with their work and their positions. It also lets people grow into new, often more valuable roles. Advancement from within also encourages engagement since people know they aren’t condemned to never promote.
Much like morale, engagement can feel mysterious. Yet, in practice, you can promote it with comparatively simple actions. Hire the right people for open positions. Provide feedback. Offer training. These send a clear message that you’re invested in your employees. In turn, they’ll often prove much more engaged with their work and with the success of your business.
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